I love to throw a good holiday party. It used to involve a lot of drinking, some loud music and dancing and of course, food.
One year I made a complete ass of myself. I had too much to drink and allegedly was dirty dancing on the table. I later saw the video, so I know it happened.
My kids were there. The sense of shame I felt was overwhelming. My son and daughter both asked me to never do that again.
I apologized and asked their forgiveness.
I have two rules when it comes to a sincere apology.
- Don’t ruin an apology by adding an excuse.
- Don’t repeat the behavior, change it.
I work to lead by example every day. I mess up sometimes. I lose my cool. I yell at my kids. But I can’t tuck them in at night and look them in the eye leaving any unfinished business. And if I did something or said something that was out of line I apologize. A short and simple “I’m sorry, I was wrong talking that way. I will try to do better tomorrow.”
On the other end there is the matter of graciously receiving an apology. I have seen it time and time again where a comment from the past is brought up on the news or social media that someone made a long time ago. The perpetrator apologizes but the damage is done, and their reputation is ruined. They lose their job. While I’m not saying this is wrong or right, I would like to suggest that accepting an apology is as important as giving one.
If the person’s behavior has changed and they have righted their wrongs, accepting their apology is an act of grace we can extend to them. It says, we understand we are all humans, we make mistakes and it is o.k.